Seeing the Rock Cycle in the Ozarks

September 25, 2016

On this year’s trip to the Current River with the Middle School we were able to see outcrops of the three major types of rocks: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary.

Igneous Rocks

Beautiful, pink granite at Elephant Rocks State Park.

Beautiful, pink granite at Elephant Rocks State Park.

We stopped by Elephant Rocks State Park on the way down to the river to check out the gorgeous pink granite that makes up the large boulders. The coarse grains of quartz (translucent) interbedded with the pink orthoclase crystals make for an excellent example of a slow-cooling igneous rock.

Metamorphic Rocks

The Prairie Creek waterfall pool.

The Prairie Creek waterfall pool.

On the second day out on the canoes we clambered up the rocks in the Prairie Creek valley to see jump into the small waterfall pool. The rocks turned out to look a lot like the granite of Elephant Rocks if the large crystals had been heated up and deformed plastically. This initial stage of the transformation allowed me to talk about metamorphic rocks althought we’ll see some much more typical samples when we get back to the classroom.

Prairie Creek rocks.

Prairie Creek rocks.

Sedimentary Rocks

Limestone bluffs along the Current River.

Limestone bluffs along the Current River.

We visited a limestone cave on the third day, although we’ve been canoeing through a lot of limestone for on the previous two days. This allowed us to talk about sedimentary rocks: their formation in the ocean and then uplift via tectonic collisions.

The Rock Cycle

Diagram of a convergent tectonic margin used to illustrate the rock cycle.

Diagram of a convergent tectonic margin used to illustrate the rock cycle.

Back at camp, we summarized what we saw with a discussion of the rock cycle, using a convergent plate margin as an example. Note: sleeping mats turned out to be excellent models for converging tectonic plates.

Note to self: It might make sense to add extra time at the beginning and end of the trip to do some more geology stops. Johnson Shut-Inns State Park is between Elephant Rocks and Eminence, and we saw a lot of interesting sedimentary outcrops on the way back to school as we headed up to Rolla.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2016. Seeing the Rock Cycle in the Ozarks, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Elephant Rocks

October 13, 2014

Students explore the massive, spheroidally weathered boulders at Elephant Rocks State Park.

Students explore the massive, spheroidally weathered boulders at Elephant Rocks State Park.

We stopped at the Elephant Rocks State Park our way down to Eminence MO for our middle school immersion trip. The rocks are the remnants of a granitic pluton (a big blob of molten rock) that cooled underground about 1.5 billion years ago. As the strata above the cooled rock were eroded away the pressure release created vertical and horizontal cracks (joints). Water seeped into those joints, weathered the minerals (dissolution and hydrolysis mainly), and eroded the sediments produced, to create the rounded shapes the students had a hard time leaving behind.

This was a great stop, that I think we’ll need to keep on the agenda for the next the next trip. I did consider stopping at the Johnson’s Shut-Ins Park as well, but we were late enough getting to Eminence as it was. Perhaps next time.

Exploring the spaces between the rocks.

Exploring the spaces between the rocks.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2014. Elephant Rocks, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Plate Tectonics on the Eminence Immersion

October 13, 2014

tectonics-IMG_20141007_093449722

The picture of a convergent tectonic boundary pulls together our immersion trip to Eminence, and the geology we’ve been studying this quarter. We saw granite boulders at Elephant Rocks; climbed on a rhyolite outcrop near the Current River; spelunked through limestone/dolomitic caverns; and looked at sandstone and shale outcrops on the road to and from school.

An oceanic-oceanic subduction zone. The subducting plate melts producing volatile magma.

The subducting plate melts producing volatile magma.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2014. Plate Tectonics on the Eminence Immersion , Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Relativity in a Canoe

September 29, 2014

The world moves around the canoe.

The world moves around the canoe.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my middle school students have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the idea of multiple frames of reference. We were in a canoe on the Current River and I asked the student paddling in the rear of the boat to look at me and answer the question, “Are we in the canoe moving, or are we steady in one spot and everything around us moving?”

This resulted in some serious cognitive processing. And she still has not gotten back to me with an answer.

Another student, faced with the same question, thought it over overnight and concluded that it was a riddle. He figured the correct answer was that the canoe was moving and the land was still. I asked him to think about it a little more (because he was only half right).

Interestingly enough, I’ll be teaching my Advanced Physics class this block, and the first chapter has a neat little section on coordinate systems. I’m curious to see if the 11th and 12th graders have an easier time with the concept.

The canoe moves.

The canoe moves.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2014. Relativity in a Canoe, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Campfire Silhouettes

March 25, 2013

Sitting around the campfire during the Eminence Immersion.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Campfire Silhouettes, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Caving

October 28, 2012

Looking into the narrow passageway that our guides called the "Birth Canal".

They took us into a sculpted, limestone cavern they called “Twins Cave”. The entrance was large, but, for those with the predilection, there were narrower passageways that required crawling, wiggling, and a definite lack of claustrophobia.

Apart from the wonderful speleotherms, the cave was home to some charismatic fauna.

An owl sits amid the stalactite formations near the roof of the cave.

A salamander wanders the floor, picking its way through the limestone debris.

Though I did not capture any pictures of bats, they flew around us, and we found evidence of their presence just under the cloying red mud that covered most of the cave floor.

Much of the cave was floored with a sticky, red, residual clay, which, in places, covered deposits of bat guano.

The limestone precipitated cave formations were quite beautiful: fluted, cathedral-organ-like stalactites;

Fluted stalactites reminiscent of Gaudi.

thin, precise straws hanging from the ceiling:

Looking up at the crystal encrusted straws hanging from the ceiling.

The juxtaposition of the beauty above us and the mess beneath our feet brought into focus the idea that happiness is not an absolute thing, but rather comes from the difference between misery and joy.

(Eminence Immersion)

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Caving, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Authentic Teambuilding

October 26, 2012

Figuring out how to work a canoe.

Observing my students figuring out how to canoe on the river this last outdoor education trip has reinforced my belief in the effectiveness of authentic team-building experiences over simulations and co-operative games.

Each morning, I assigned different pairs of students to each canoe. One of the main objectives of the outdoor ed trip is to help integrate the 7th and 8th graders, and the new 8th graders into a cohesive group. Good relationships among the students are necessary to achieve the benefits of the multi-age classroom.

Figuring out which way is upstream and which way is downstream.

It took them a while (sometimes up to an hour on the water), but they eventually figured out how to work together.

And when one of the canoes tipped over — more from overconfidence than from anything else — everyone pitched in to help recover the canoe.

Recovering the tipped canoe.

Then, when the storms came, they pulled together and all the practice paid off.

Paddling through the storm.

No simulation could have matched the experience.

Forging a team out of cold water, thunder, and lightening.

From our Eminence Immersion.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Authentic Teambuilding, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Evidence of Wild Horses

October 26, 2012

From horses?

Out along the Current River, we found evidence of large, vegetarian animals (see above). When we described the feces to our guide, he suspected that they might be from one of the small herds of wild horses that roam the area.

The story goes, that when the government acquired the lands for the Current River Conservation Area and changed the rules about what could be done in the area, horses were released in protest by the local farmers.

(From our Eminence Immersion)

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Evidence of Wild Horses, Retrieved November 18th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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